When learning English, there are so many aspects that one must focus on in order to improve: vocabulary, writing, grammar, pronunciation, conversation, etc. However, one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of the English language is also one of the most important: Phrasal Verbs.

What is a phrasal verb?

A phrasal verb is the combination of a Verb and a Preposition, so: Phrasal Verb=Verb + Preposition. In most cases, the preposition modifies the definition of the verb. Phrasal verbs are so important for ESL students to study because they are used all the time by native English speakers, and are a key factor in speaking “natural” English.

Let’s look at some important phrasal verbs.

Drop off - To take something/someone somewhere and leave it/them in that location

Example 1: I have to drop off my brother at school at 8:30.

Example 2: I dropped off my laundry at the cleaners yesterday; I have to go pick it up tomorrow.

Think about how different these sentences would sound without the preposition: I have to drop my brother at school at 8:30. In this case, the verb without the preposition “off” sends a very different message, and is not correct.

There are hundreds of phrasal verbs in the English language, many of which have more than one meaning. Some phrasal verbs, such as “Pick up” have over 5 different meanings/situations in which it can be used. There are many free online resources and lists which can help you build your Phrasal Verb vocabulary. This is just an introduction to phrasal verbs, but if you want to truly speak natural English like a native English speaker then you must make a concentrated effort to use and understand them regularly in your speech.

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